Eating in the third trimester
The third trimester is a time for rapid growth, which means less room for food! While it is absolutely amazing that during this time the fetus will gain half its weight it can make for some uncomfortable times for Mum – something I can relate to as I write this with a decreasing appetite. During this time of growth, the foods you are consuming will be used for increasing your baby’s birth weight and also for the lungs and brain development that will continue this trimester too. However just like the second trimester your requirements for the extra growth and development is an extra 500 calories per day (1). The whole experience of being pregnant is so different for everyone with some women finding the last stretch a breeze while others struggle with the extra weight and the fatigue.
Small meals or snacks that are nutrient dense will help ensure you remain comfortable but also consume enough food. Personally I’m finding smoothies great for either breakfast or an easy snack. They are cooling on hot days and an easy way to pack in lots of nutrients while being easy on the tummy. Healthy fat such as avocado, salmon, nuts and seeds, and olive oil are a good source of energy and also provide key nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E and magnesium. Plus they will also help the body with the nutrients it requires to produce breast milk.
Iron and omega 3 remain a focus during the third trimester to provide essential nutrients for rapid growth and brain development (2)(3). Foods such as lean red meat, eggs, legumes and oily fish such as salmon and sardines are great to include regularly. Also calcium and vitamin D is essential to continue to build healthy bones and teeth (4).
And unfortunatley here is the hard bit for many women. Reflux and heartburn can be common as baby takes up more room with some finding rich or spicy foods to be the culprit others may find remaining upright other meals eases the pain.
Fluid retention is also common during the final few weeks and our dietary intake of sodium can influence how much fluid you are retaining. Avoiding adding extra salt when cooking and foods high in salt such as packet soups and sauces, some pre packaged savoury snacks along with consuming at least 2 litres of water a day can help with the amount of fluid we retain. Plus consuming foods rich in potassium such a green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits. and beetroot. may help flush out the extra fluid.
And for a lot of women the dreaded constipation can be an issue, so ensure enough fibre is being consumed such as vegetables and fruits and keeping up your fluid intake each day – especially in the warmer weather.
Enjoy those last few weeks!
- Ministry of Health. Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: A background paper.
- J Coletta, S Bell, A Roman (2010) Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy. Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology. 3(4): 163-171
- Bothwell TH (2000) Iron requirements in pregnancy and strategies to meet them. American Journal Clinical Nutrition. 72:257S-264S
- National Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for Calcium and vitamin D. New York, National Academies Press, 2011